Health 1500 hosted a Suicide Prevention and Awareness presentation on Nov. 28.
The room was filled with students interested in hearing what guest speaker Taryn Aiken Hiatt, Director of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in Utah and Nevada, had to say about such a tough subject.
“Unfortunately, [suicide] is now the leading death for youth in the state of Utah,” Hiatt says.
Hiatt started out by sharing her personal experiences and how she got involved with AFSP 15 years ago. She looked at the clock and noticed that it was 10:10 a.m., which happens to be the actual time when she found her father after he took his own life Oct. 5, 2002. After researching online, she found that AFSP did not have a chapter in Utah. Hiatt quickly changed that by hosting her first “Suicide Prevention Walk” to raise awareness, as well as money, for the cause.
The classroom listened quietly to Hiatt’s very emotional and raw presentation, or “conversation,” as she calls it.
“Talk saves lives,” Hiatt says. “In the state of Utah there are a lot of ‘S’ words that we don’t usually talk about. For example, sex.”
There has been fear in the communities for years that, if suicide is discussed, it will give people the idea to do it themselves. This is a myth that people like Hiatt hope to dispel. Unfortunately, since many aren’t talking openly about it, the death rate continues to rise.
Those who have been affected may not know who they can share their experience with, or, how it could even happen to one of their loved ones. They are encouraged to have open and honest conversations about it.
“Nine out of ten people have a mental condition (depression for example) who die by suicide,” Hiatt says. “And one in four of those who die by suicide are intoxicated at the time of their deaths.”
Over 800,000 people die by suicide every year, according to the World Health Organization. Suicide is a mental health issue with multiple risk factors that comes with it. Health conditions, environment, and family history could all play a role in suicide.
College students can be prone to suicidal thoughts. Deadlines and other pressures in life can be very stressful as the end of the semester approaches. Having this type of conversation can potentially help many students.
Visit AFSP Utah for local chapter events and program information.